Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Davis.
Thomas, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was diagnosed with HIV in 2013 as I was finishing up college. Over the next year, I began to disclose my status to my partners, friends, and family. I received a lot of support and love from people, so I decided to start my work as an activist and public speaker in the HIV Prevention field. I because of a national and international speaker and face for HIV among same gender loving black men.
After working in the field for a few years, I wanted to use more innovative and creative ways of education why generation about the effects HIV & AIDS had/have on our communities. I created The Catharsis Project to use performance art and digital media to share stories about the HIV epidemic with other millennials.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of the biggest struggles has been finding the funds to consistently work in the community. Arts funding isn’t easy to come by, and HIV related funding can be highly competitive and tends to be more research-based. When people see an approach or idea that’s unconventional, they don’t always take to it quickly.
I think one of the most frustrating questions I get is “how do you KNOW this is effective?” It’s like people know the arts are healing and are an effective way of approaching education and discussion of taboo topics, but there is always a want to see RESEARCH and number that prove it.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Catharsis Project story. Tell us more about the business.
The Catharsis Project uses dance, theater, poetry, and digital media to share stories about the HIV epidemic with communities affected by HIV. We are known for our ability to draw emotions and dialogue out of audiences through our emotional and shocking performances and films. We have performed for several conferences, summits, and special events the center HIV & AIDS work and are currently preparing for performances over the next few months.
I’m most proud of The Catharsis Project for receiving funding from AIDS United for a program called The Creative Remedy & Education Workshops (The C.R.E.W). The C.R.E.W is a weekly group for millennial of color living with HIV. We come together and use the arts as a way to create a safe space. We use dance, creative writing, photography, theater, and other visual art forms to learn new skills and express ourselves.
In addition, we do events in the community and address public bodies and officials to share our voices and young people living with HIV. To my knowledge, we are the only organization that uses dance and arts to not only share stories with the community but to empower and strengthen the skills of those performing the work.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck and grace have kept me and this project going. It’s played a HUGE role in our start and continuation of our work. I’m lucky to have the team of dancers and artists that support my vision, and We are SO lucky to receive the opportunities we are given.
- Email: YheCatharsisProjectLA@gmail.
- Instagram: @thecatharsisproject
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecatharsisprojectpage/
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCionyFnRXZVHQwv1gege_PQ?view_as=subscriber
Louis Kengi Carr, Terry Hastings, and Hal Banfield